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SLC guitar class students address Crane School of Music students

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BRASHER FALLS - Two St. Lawrence Central School seniors drew the accolades of a professor of music education at the Crane School of Music after they talked to the school’s Music Teaching and Learning class about their high school guitar class at their school.

Kelsey Newtown and Sierra Sicard were selected to address the class and, following their hour-long presentation, left an impression on Professor Mark Robin Campbell and his students.

“It was a privilege to hear them speak. They were fabulous. Their presentation was thoughtful, articulate, insightful and inspiring. They were valuable ‘informants’ for the college students in the class, as they actively and impressively shared their documentary film, descriptions of learning and demonstrations of musical knowledge and skills,” he wrote in a letter to school officials.

“They were also impressive ambassadors for democratic learning in the music classroom in that they demonstrated passion, initiative and the kinds of dispositions that lead to significant understanding in music. Both the faculty and the college students were impressed,” Dr. Campbell said.

Ms. Newtown and Ms. Sicard were members of Krista M. Easton’s guitar class at St. Lawrence Central School last year. What makes the class unique is that students have more independence to work at their own pace.

Ms. Easton had made a presentation to the district’s Board of Education members about the process, and she noted that teachers in “co-constructed classrooms” like the guitar class take on the role of facilitator rather than someone who is doling out the information.

She told board members the instruction is adapted so students are challenged, while at the same time not feeling frustrated. The students have a hands-on role in their education, taking on the role of teacher in their exploration, research, discovery and construction of new musical knowledge.

Dr. Campbell said he was impressed by the knowledge gained by the students in that type of a classroom environment.

“Mrs. Easton and (St. Lawrence)s Central School District have done an outstanding job of educating these students for vital participation and life long learning in music. And equally important, Mrs. Easton has opened up pathways to a host of qualities needed for achievement and success in life,” he said.

Those qualities, he said, include creative thinking, collaboration, focus and discipline, and confidence.

“As a college music education professor, I only wish I had more such examples from our state’s public school music programs to share with future teachers. My colleagues, Julie Bannerman, Debra Campbell, Jennifer Kessler and Benjamin Rybolt share the same viewpoint.,” Dr. Campbell said.

Mrs. Easton said she was equally impressed with the work of her students.

“I am excited to see these high school students take the lead like this and talk about transformative educational practice to these teachers-to-be,” she said.

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